Senators Ups and Downs: The final week

Hey, has anyone heard of this Erik Karlsson guy? I think he could be an asset for the team in the future. - Jared Wickerham

Ups and downs is a feature that looks at the individual performances of the Ottawa Senators during the past week.

In the end, the Ottawa Senators overcame long odds to get a winnable--but by no means easy--playoff matchup. That they are even there is a testament to the coaching staff, who clearly didn't given up on the team when everyone outside of the locker room did. They didn't have an easy path, and they didn't make things easy on themselves, but this team found a way--and every player, even the ones who are now scratched, in Binghamton, or in Tampa Bay contributed to that success.

Biggest Gains: Erik Karlsson

Hey, did you hear that Karlsson returned from a supposedly season-ending injury in just two months and that he's played pretty well?

Biggest losses: Patrick Wiercioch

Tied for fifth in team scoring as a rookie defenseman, scratched for a Norris-Trophy winner. Sure, you can say he's been scratched for Eric Gryba, but it's Karlsson's return that ultimately that bumped Wiercioch out of the lineup. And that sucks for a kid who struggled for much of his pro career, suffered a life-threatening injury last season, committed to improving himself in the offseason, and then seized the opportunity to play in the NHL when it presented itself to him.

Goalies Trend Notes
Craig Anderson Anderson was pretty weak against Pittsburgh, but rebounded strongly against Washington to earn the team a playoff berth. He was good enough to win against Philadelphia, but didn't get the W. Anderson heads into the playoffs with a 1.69GAA and .941 save percentage. Last year's playoff numbers: 2.01GAA, .933 save percentage, one shutout. Lots of reasons for confidence here.
Robin Lehner

In probably his final start of the season, Lehner saved 32 of 34 shots (94.4%) to propel his team to the 7th seed in the Eastern Conference. Lehner could be Ottawa's most improved player this year. As a backup who is imminently capable of winning games, he's a huge asset for the team heading into next season.
Defensemen
Andre Benoit

Despite remaining a healthy scratch, Benoit was the team's nominee for the Masterton Trophy, and it's well-deserved. Benoit earned his spot on the roster this season, even if he was eventually squeezed out of the starting lineup.
Jared Cowen

Just when we thought we were done with first goals of the year, Cowen bags his. His return has been overshadowed by Karlsson's, but he's been a huge part of the defense since he got back.
Eric Gryba

Gryba's play has improved throughout the year. It will be interesting to see if the team dresses him against Montreal.
Sergei Gonchar

With a goal (OT game-winner, playoff-qualifier) and two assists, it appears Gonchar has rediscovered his scoring touch at the right time. Wonder if Karlsson's return had something to do with that?
Erik Karlsson

See "Biggest gains." Also, 4 assists in 3 games.
Mike Lundin

Remains scratched. Unlikely to be re-signed.
Mark Methot

He sure looks happy to have Karlsson back.
Chris Phillips

Played well for the most part this week. Got beat by Alex Ovechkin, but that's hardly a cause for shame.
Patrick Wiercioch

See "Biggest losses."
Forwards
Daniel Alfredesson

Three assists in four games. With the team needing a push to make the playoffs, Alfie leads. He is not now the strength which in old days moved earth and heaven; that which he is, he is; one equal temper of heroic heart, made weak by time and fate, but strong in will; To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Cory Conacher

Probably won't win the Calder, but creates offense and draws penalties. Seems like he's built for the playoffs.
Erik Condra

Could have had three goals against Boston. But he's Condra, so we have to be happy with one. Oh, and Ottawa finishes the year with the league's top PK.
Colin Greening

Just one assist this week, but Greening is going to get a real chance to contribute on places besides the scoresheet in a few days.
Matt Kassian

He was fine against Philadelphia, but it will be interesting to see if he plays from here out.
Guillaume Latendresse

Hasn't exactly scored the points to justify staying in the lineup, but you have to think he's going to be fired up to face his old team.
Milan Michalek

Just one assist for Michalek this week. He's still getting scoring chances, which is good, but he's not burying them, which is bad.
Chris Neil

Just Chris Neil bein' Chris Neil. Loved him taking on the bigger Milan Lucic in a fight.
Jim O`Brien

Remains a healthy scratch.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau

Doubled his season point total with a great game against Boston. Struggled on faceoffs, though. That's going to be crucial in the playoffs.
Peter Regin

Remains a healthy scratch.
Jakob Silfverberg

Scored a goal that helped the team make the playoffs.
Zack Smith

Tough week. Very interested to see if the playoffs suit his role a little more.
Kyle Turris

2G, 1A in 4 games. Good time for him to start scoring again. Wonder if Karlsson's return had something to do with that?
Mika Zibanejad

No points this week and an abysmal record on faceoffs. The Senators will need him to do more in the playoffs. It would be nice to see Jason Spezza return so Mikachu could get a little less responsibility and be free just to play hockey.
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